"The first time I walked up to the Solar Eagle lab, I stopped at
the door and asked if I could come in," says Mechanical Engineering
senior, Kathleen Hansen. "I was in such awe of the whole project, I
thought you had to have special credentials just to go in the lab."
Now the Solar Eagle III student team captain, Kathleen
looks back at her assumptions with amusement. "I guess I thought you
had to be some kind of superstar student to be able to work on a Solar Eagle.
I thought it was totally out of my reach."
Nearly two years later, Kathleen has been a key player in the planning,
designing, and constructing of Cal
State L.A.'s third solar-powered electric vehicle. Aside from assuming
the role of team leader, Kathleen also worked extensively on the Solar Eagle
III's mechanical systems and batteries.
But there's more to this native Southern Californian's role in the Solar
Eagle III project than meets the eye. In between hours of work on the car,
engineering classes, and days spent at BW/IP International, where she has
a part-time job in the pump division, Kathleen shared her thoughts on...
The New Car...
Regional Qualifier. It was amazing how eager our competitors were to
help us just because they liked the Solar Eagle III. One member from another
team loaned us a fan and when we gave it back, he said, "I'm going
to frame this fan because it was used on your car." That's how the
Solar Eagle III is--it's a very likable car. I think it's definitely the
best looking we've ever had. Me? I just love to hear the sound of it driving
by. It makes me so proud, it gives me chills."
finished. It was necessary. When you have to incorporate work, classes,
and building a solar car at the same time, you have to work for it. I found
that, if I can get through 4:00 to 6:00 in the morning which is when my
body could really use a rest, then I'm usually good to go until midnight.
And it wasn't just me. The whole team has worked incredibly long hours to
get the job done. That's the only way a project like this can work."
The Brink of Competition...
'97. The Qualifier gave us all a little taste of the excitement and
the long hours--5:00 a.m. to midnight, running on adrenaline. I just hope
I've got enough adrenaline for ten Sunrayce days. Team
Solar Eagle III is anxious to meet up with the teams that participated
in the Eastern
Qualifier. We've done our homework, and I really feel we're ready for
The Importance of Student Projects...
much to so many Cal State L.A. students over the years. It's the only project
I've ever been involved in that literally turns the reins over to students
completely. One thing people don't realize about us, though, is that we've
had a tremendous amount of support from the university and from our corporate
sponsors. We've been treated like professionals every step of the way."
Women in Engineering...
engineers, but who am I to say? What I do feel strongly about, though, is
that young girls in early education shouldn't be intimidated by or persuaded
to avoid courses in science and math. I've heard of this happening and more
than anything it makes me feel lucky that I was always encouraged in those
subjects. In my experience, women and men look at situations differently,
and the different perspective a woman can offer the professional world of
engineering is really an asset to her."